New York Estate Planning News - Find a NY Estate Attorney

July 2010 Archives

Son Eric Koula Accused Of Inheritance Murder In Wisconsin

Eric Koula is accused of murdering his parents in order to collect his inheritance in Wisconsin. While this inheritance murder may not necessarily shock a NY estate attorney who has seen it all, it has certainly sent shockwaves through the town of West Salem. LaCrosse Tribune reports that Eric Koula allegedly shot his parents in the head. The murders happened in their rural home in Barre, Wisc. He came back to the home three days later and called 911. His paternal uncle was devastated. He said: "I can't understand why he would kill his own father and mother. What the hell is with him?"

According to law enforcement's homicide investigation, it seems that the motivation may have been greed to collect an inheritance that his parents lovingly set aside for him and his sister. Rivertowns reports that Dennis and Merna Koula left their home worth $500,000 along with other assets to their son and daughter. They were named co-representatives of the estate. As a result of the investigation, Eric Koula has been charged with homicide and forgery.

CNN reports that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating possible life insurance fraud with life insurance for the military. For more information about life insurance for military personnel, it may be helpful to speak with a NY estate attorney. However, for this particular situation, it seems that New York's AG wants tackle the life insurance companies for what he claims are fraudulent tactics. 

Andrew Cuomo said that the New York's AG office must probe into "practices that appear to have denied grieving military families and others of millions in life-insurance cash." It is claimed that some insurers have told military families that policy payouts were placed into an interest-bearing account. However, it seems a majority of the benefits were not placed in banks that were insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  

Herzog Heirs Put Pressure On Hungary Over Looted Art

The Los Angeles Times reports that heirs of Mor Lipot Herzog, a Budapest based banker, are suing in U.S. courts against Hungary over looted art they claim that Herzog lost during the Holocaust. The lawsuit is worth over $100 million and includes pieces of art from Lucas Cranach the Elder, El Greco, Francisco de Zurbaran and Gustave Courbet. We have already written about how New York heirs can pursue looted art claims with a NY estate attorney before.

This particular lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles by Lead plaintiff David de Csepel. The lawsuit is considered one of the biggest restitution claims filed by a family against another country. The heir's lawyer Michael S. Shuster told the Los Angeles Times: "This is one of the largest -- if not the largest -- restitution claims ever filed in U.S. courts by a single family against another nation." While there are 20 heirs involved in this lawsuit, lawyers say that it was essential that the lead plaintiff was relatively young. It sends a message that Hungary can't play the waiting game with this lawsuit.

City Gives $7 Million In Sean Bell Wrongful Death Suit

The City of New York has agreed to settle the wrongful death lawsuit of Sean Bell. The New York Post reports that the wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Sean Bell's family after a tragic police shooting back in 2006. Sean Bell, who had his bachelor party at a strip club in Queens, was gunned down literally hours before he was to get married to his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell.

The family may need to consult with a NY estate attorney because the City of New York will now pay Sean Bell's estate approximately $3.25 million. His sole heirs are his two children Jada (age 7) and Jordyn (age 4). The city also settled with injured friends of Bell's. Joseph Guzman, who was injured by police received $3 million. Trent Benefield received $900,000.

Mocienne Petit Jackson Stakes A Claim On Michael Jackson's Estate

TMZ reports that there may be yet another claim to the massive Michael Jackson estate. Mocienne Petit Jackson claims that she is the daughter of the late Michael Jackson. She is the niece of the famed lead singer of the Supremes, Diana Ross. Mocienne Petit Jackson has filed documents in L.A. County Superior Court claiming that if a judge gives approval for a DNA test, that she will most certainly be entitled to some of the inheritance set aside for the late King Of Pop's children. She has said she brought forth this legal action so she can "formally claim my part of my father's inheritance."

If what she claims is indeed true, then Michael Jackson would have sired the child at the tender age of 17; Mocienne Petit Jackson was conceived in 1975.

Perry Estate Battle Finally Ends

The fight over the late music country songwriter Darrell "Wayne" Perry estate has finally been laid to rest in Cincinnati. While this particular feud happened in Ohio, a NY estate attorney can attest to family feuds happening in the Empire state as well. Associated Press reports that the four children of the late Wayne Perry have been fighting their evangelist aunt Darlene Bishop for five years. A probate judge finally ruled that a trust fund should be made using the children's share of his music catalog.

When Wayne Perry passed away in 2005 from throat cancer, his sister Darlene Bishop became executor of his estate. The children challenged her handling of Perry's estate and accused Bishop of encouraging Perry to pray instead of seek medical treatment for his cancer.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance Policy: Is It Worth It?

We have written before about life insurance policies, but there has been a growing trend in the life insurance world for a new type of policy: the indexed universal life insurance policy. If you haven't heard of it, you may want to ask a NY estate attorney for more specifics, but here is the general gist of what it is.

It is similar to universal life insurance, but according to Investopedia, indexed universal life insurance allows the policy holder to allocate cash amounts to either a fixed account or to an equity index account. It also allows policy holders the ability to decide what percentage of funds that they want to allocate to the fixed and indexed portions.

Heirloom Gift Giving Can Cause Grief For Heirs

While we have written about the benefits of the gift tax rate as a way to dodge the impending federal estate tax, the Wall Street Journal reports that giving an heirloom gift may cause more trouble than grantors realize. The Wall Street Journal reports that a significant amount of wealth will pass from one generation to the next via inheritance. The Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimates that $41 trillion will transfer to heirs over the next forty years. A bulk of that wealth will take the form of an heirloom gift.

While a NY estate attorney would tell clients that gift giving is a great way to offset the estate tax in larger estates, it is not necessarily as easy as it looks. The reason for this is because often, an heirloom gift's worth is hard to determine. A New York estate planning lawyer can tell you that when the decedent passes away, the executor must put together a schedule of assets for Surrogates Court in New York. In the schedule, an executor must list the estimated value of all assets in the estate; including any heirloom gifts.

Why Dying Intestate Alone Can Hurt The Community

The New York Times did a piece on how a large population of elderly single individuals is placing a big burden on Marin County, California. Why is that? More and more of those Marin residents are dying intestate; often alone. When someone dies intestate, and dies alone, it is up to the county to decide what to do with the decedent's assets. That is, after the county has located all of the assets.

While this is an article that covers Marin County, a New York estate planning lawyer will tell you that the same issue crops up in counties in New York as well.

Heirs of Howard Hughes Fight For Payments From Mall Owner

Bloomberg reports that the heirs of Howard Hughes are currently battling General Growth Properties Inc. for an appropriate appraisal of property in Nevada. In the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, a judge ruled that the heirs of Howard Hughes can get a full appraisal process while General Growth Properties confirms its bankruptcy plan this October.

Howard Hughes' heirs are owed close to half of property that was unsold at the Summerlin community close to Las Vegas. It has been estimated to be worth $430 million and has been given a book value of $1.1. billion by the company.

The Estate Tax Looks Likely, But Not Without A Fight

The estate tax vote looks like it will be a major point of contention this fall. With the U.S. Senate voting against a permanent tax repeal this week, more and more "death tax" opponents will make it a point to use the issue as a way to land more seats during elections in the fall. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that this past Wednesday, an amendment proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (Rep-S.C.) to repeal the estate tax was voted down by the Senate. It is important to note that the vote had a margin of 39-59.

Leopold Museum Settles Austrian Estate Claim on Schiele Painting

A settlement has been reached over the rightful ownership of an Egon Schiele painting between the heirs of Vienna art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray and Vienna's Leopold Museum. While the dispute centers on international law, we are sure it is a case that will certainly intrigue a NY estate attorney since it involves estate ownership. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Leopold Museum of Vienna has agreed to pay $19 million to the heirs of the Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray. The Egon Schiele painting known as "Wally" was stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

After the war, the U.S. military returned the Egon Schiele painting to the Austrian Federal Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments. However, it was grouped with a collection of art owned by Heinrich Rieger. Rieger's heirs sold the painting to the Austrian National Gallery, who then sold the painting to Rudolf Leopold. It is Mr. Leopold who founded the Leopold Museum. When asked to return the painting by Ms. Jaray herself, Mr. Leopold refused. He told her that he bought the painting through legal channels.

POLST: The New Generation For Advance Healthcare Directives?

While this blog has covered the advance healthcare directive (also known as a living will) before, the New York Times sheds some light on a new type of living will. It is called "Physicians Orders For Life Sustaining Treatment."

It is also known as POLST. You can ask a NY estate attorney more about POLST, but you may have to use a different acronym. It is known as a MOLST in New York. MOLST allows physicians to honor a patient's wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-sustaining treatment. It is seen as a unified form that is intended to be used in all medical care settings.

Necessary Documents For Estate Planning

New Yorkers are typically smart cookies. This is why it is important for New Yorkers to know what documents for estate planning they need.

New Yorkers probably already know the importance of estate planning. The New York Times put together a list of ways to make life simpler for heirs of an estate. The list advises individuals who are mapping out their estates to let heirs know what the will says, resolve any conflicts, ensure that burial arrangements are made, and where to find documents.

Lucille Ball's Daughter and Susie Morton Must Split Memorabilia

The Christian Science Monitor reports that a judge has ruled that Lucille Ball's daughter, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill has rights over her late mother's lifetime achievement awards, but not her mother's love letters. We have covered before on this blog how Luckinbill was sued by Susie Morton over the auction of Lucille Ball's personal belongings. If you have a similar question in New York, a NY estate attorney can shed some light on the topic.

The lawsuit claims that Susie Morton is the rightful owner of the memorabilia because she inherited the items through her husband, the late Gary Morton. Gary Morton was Lucille Ball's second husband. He received the items after the comedienne's passing in April of 1989.

Tips Expatriates Should Ask A NY Estate Attorney

We have written about New York residents needing to talk to a New York estate planning lawyer, but what about New Yorkers who have decided to live in another country? With more and more families possessing a variety of nationalities and retiring abroad, more complications can arise during estate planning. The New York Times has assembled a list of estate planning tactics for this unique international estate planning in a Special Report called Net Worth.

Come To Terms With Death

The New York Times writes that the first step to creating an effective estate plan is recognizing the fact that you will eventually pass away. In essence, no one lives forever and should make plans accordingly. For many New Yorkers, this means taking the first step and calling a NY estate attorney. Christopher Shaw, group head of wealth planning at SG Hambros, is quoted as saying, "Individuals should take note of the fact that they're going to die at some point."

Updating Your Will: Why You Need A NY Estate Attorney

When most people make a will, they typically stash it in a box (or file it in Surrogate's Court) and forget about it. Well, we have covered enough estate planning news stories that illustrate that the "set it, then forget it" method can lead to estate squabbles among your heirs.

If you want to avoid any future disputes with your heirs, it is best to have an updated will when you pass away. This means taking stock of your current will with your New York estate planning lawyer and making changes where they are appropriate.

Here is a checklist of things you should review when you are updating your will with your NY estate attorney:

Susie Morton Sues Lucille Ball's Daughter Over Memorabilia

In a case that will surely rivet many a NY estate attorney, we have two women who claim that they are the rightful heir to Lucille Ball's personal belongings.

Susie Morton, the wife of the late Gary Morton, was planning to hold an auction with Heritage Auctions of the late Lucille Ball's memorabilia. The late Gary Morton was the late Lucille Ball's second husband. Courthouse News reports that Lucille Ball's daughter, Lucy Arnaz Luckinbill claims that the items offered on the auction block do not belong to Susie Morton, but are rightfully hers.

Doctors Get Involved In Undue Influence Cases

We have covered how wills can be contested because of possible undue influence. While it is unfortunate, there are individuals out there who intend to take advantage of the elderly in order to gain something either through a power of attorney or inheritance. If you ask a NY estate attorney, it happens a lot more often than you think in the Big Apple.

It is actually becoming a cause for concern by other professionals such as bankers and doctors. They are now getting more and more involved in undue influence cases. The Wall Street Journal reports that more doctors are getting involved in a program where they can detect possible victims of financial fraud. It seems that older adults who have mild cognitive impairment may have trouble with managing their finances. This can lead to fraud or undue influence.

Narcy Novak: Accused of Two Murders For Inheritance

In a gruesome story that would appall even the most experienced NY estate attorney, Narcy Novak of Westchester New York was charged with her husband Ben Novak's murder. The New York Daily News reports that Ben Novak Jr., hotel heir of Fontainebleu Hotel, was brutally beaten to death in a Westchester County hotel. Federal authorities charged Narcy Novak, her brother, and two other suspects with the murder. They were charged last Friday.

It may have been part of a plan by Narcy Novak to collect from his $10 million estate which boasts the world's second largest collection of Batman memorabilia. The collection is estimated to be worth over $1 million.

Generation Skipping Trust Can Mean Wealth Stays In the Family

Wealthy New Yorkers can ask their New York estate planning lawyer about ways for their heirs to avoid taxes through estate planning devices. One of those devices is known as a generation skipping trust. A generation skipping trust, which is also known as a dynasty trust, is crafted so that the trust assets can avoid estate taxes upon the tax payer's children's deaths and longer. While there is a $2 million limit, it is a handy way for people to avoid New York's hefty 16 percent estate tax.

While New York has a law that limits the length of time of a non-charitable trust, New Jersey has repealed its rule against perpetuities. While the rule against perpetuities can confound even a seasoned NY estate attorney, it means that there is no limit in duration of a trust in this situation.

George M. Steinbrenner Dies During Estate Tax Lapse

George M. Steinbrenner, the iconic New York Yankees owner, passed away in a hospital in Tampa from a heart attack on Tuesday morning of this week. Perhaps New York City Mayor Bloomberg said it best when he released a statement that read, "He has left an indelible legacy on the Yankees, on baseball, and on our city, and he leaves us in the only way that would be appropriate: as a reigning world champion."

New Yorkers have infamously loved and hated the man who was simply known as "The Boss." He passes away as a reigning world champion, but he may also rest well knowing that his timing was so well, he has won his heirs the right to keep their inheritance from being taxed.

The Federal Estate Tax: Something To Die For?

The Wall Street Journal waxes on about how there are many wealthy Americans who claim that the estate tax lapse is tempting them to consider drastic measures such as suicide. Basically, in 2010, the federal estate tax went from 45 percent to zero. If Congress does not change the law, the estate tax will jump to 55 percent. Ask a NY estate attorney and that lawyer will tell you that this increase adds up when you are taking estates worth millions of dollars into account.

The estate tax was only applicable to estates worth $3.5 million dollars and up, but when the estate tax is slated to come back in 2011, that threshold will be $1 million. This means more New Yorkers will have to call a New York estate planning lawyer because with assets such as real estate, many New Yorkers who assumed that they are middle class may fall into the estate tax threshold.

The Family of Shem Walker Files Wrongful Death Suit

The New York Daily News reports that the family of Shem Walker will be filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The Army veteran was shot to death when he tried to chase an undercover cop off of his elderly mother's stoop last year. The undercover NYPD officer was participating in a buy-and-bust operation.

The NYPD claims that Shem Walker was shot when he tried to reach for the officer's gun. It remains unclear whether or not the officer ever told Shem Walker he was an officer.

The family's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein told the New York Daily News: ""This is a first step for the family to get justice." The family has been attempting to retrieve some items of Shem Walker's that include a necklace with a Guyanese emblem and his mother's initials.

Hudson News Family In A Battle Of Wills Against Ron Perelman

A monumental case about the battle of wills is brewing in nearby New Jersey. And we are not talking about the infamous aroma of the New Jersey Turnpike. reports that the Cohen family of Englewood, who are well known for their Hudson News kiosks in airports all over the country, are battling a former son in law in a nasty estate fight. That former son in law is famous billionaire Ronald Perelman. He claims that the family patriarch Robert Cohen is not of sound mind anymore. As a result, he would like to invalidate the man's will. Perelman claims that his daughter Samantha is heir to half of the family fortune.

That's right; he wants to invalidate the will of a living man. A New York estate planning lawyer would tell you that this has never really been done before; even in New York.

The Federal Estate Tax Lapse Is Causing Confusion

A recent question was posed to Tom Herman in the Wall Street Journal about the federal estate tax lapse of 2010. The questioner wanted to know if Congress will act on this lapse this year and if so, when it will happen.

I am sure that if you ask a New York estate planning lawyer, he or she would want to know the same thing. The problem that Mr. Herman points out is that no one, not even a NY estate attorney knows how this will all pan out. As a result, a lot of Americans nationwide don't know whether or not to update their estate plans.

Contesting A Will

Unfortunately, a loved one can prepare an estate plan that does not necessarily reflect his or her wishes. As more and more baby boomers get set to retire, they tend to rely more on the individuals who provide them with services.

This can sometimes lead to the problem where a vulnerable person can sign away assets and create trusts without really understanding the long range implications. We have written before how wealthy individuals such as Gail Posner have left wills that seem like they could have been executed under undue influence.

Estate Planning: What Exactly Does It Entail?

CNBC reports that almost 50 percent of people do not have a will. A will is one of the documents that people need when they want to put together an estate plan.

But What Exactly Is An Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a plan that an individual makes in order to ensure that his or her final wishes about property and healthcare are known. Typically, the property involved in such a plan are real property, bank accounts, stocks and other securities, life insurance policies, and personal property.

Reasons Why An Estate Tax May Be A Good Thing

While you may want to meet with a NY estate attorney about ways to avoid an estate tax, Ray D. Madoff, a professor at Boston College Law School has written a piece for the Los Angeles Times about why an estate tax is important for the United States.

Madoff explains that proponents against the estate tax argue that an estate tax would be a form of "double taxation." Madoff argues that this reasoning is flawed because anytime an individual earns income it is taxed and then taxed again when that same individual uses that income for a different purpose; such as paying property taxes.

Baby Boomers Need To Mull Over A Legacy Plan

The Wall Street Journal reports that more and more baby boomers are gearing up for ultimately creating a legacy plan to transfer their wealth to the next generation. A lot of these baby boomers will need to turn to a New York estate planning lawyer in order to ensure that the wealth in their estates are handled according to their wishes.

Why exactly do baby boomers need to talk to a NY estate attorney?

Baby boomers have extensive assets that need to be distributed after they pass away. With the help of a New York estate planning lawyer, baby boomers can ensure that they can provide for their immediate family. Baby boomers can even tell their NY estate attorney about their intentions to provide for other relatives who may not be as fortunate as they are.

The Healthcare Directive: Americans Are Rethinking Medical Options

When an individual is diagnosed with a terminal illness or a potentially fatal medical condition, drafting a healthcare directive with the help of a NY estate attorney can help.

The Associated Press reports that more and more Americans are literally being medically "treated to death." What does that mean? It means that Americans are opting to try out desperate measure medical treatments in order to prolong a life.

According to the AP, more than 80 percent of Americans who die in the United States have such prolonged medical conditions. Most Americans die from battles with cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. However, when patients were asked in a study done by Dartmouth Atlas Project, more than 80 percent of them said that they wanted to avoid hospitalization and intensive care when they are dying.